Social Media and Well-Being: A multi-disciplinary dialogue
Social media are an integral part of people's lives, and the way social media are used may influence, and be influenced by, their well-being. The study of social media and well-being is complex and depends on different cultural, contextual, sociological, methodological, and practical factors. Scholars from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds interested in the complex nature of social media use and well-being call for more consensus on what and how to study in the context of social media and well-being. Some of them have discussed pressing conceptual, methodological, and practical issues in a previous workshop on “Social media use and well-being” hosted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in April 2022 at the Harvard Faculty Club (Cambridge, MA, U.S.). Building upon the main consensus points previously delineated by scholars, institutions, and the social media industry mainly located in the U.S., this workshop on “Social Media and Well-Being: A multi-disciplinary dialogue” aims to continue the conversation in the European context. Enlarging the invite to scholars from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds is crucial to better study the complexity between social media use and well-being. The workshop is jointly organized by the Università della Svizzera italiana, the Amsterdam School of Communication Research, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness and will be hosted from 26th to 28th June 2023 by the Università della Svizzera italiana in Lugano (Switzerland).
Key questions to be addressed during the workshop
- What do we know about the cultural, contextual, and socio-economic factors related to social media use and well-being?
- What kind of research designs, including data collection, measures, analysis, and outcomes are appropriate to study social media and well-being?
- How can we translate research into practice through interventions and policymaking?
Organisation team and invited scholars
Member of the organisation team
Mesfin Bekalu is currently a research scientist in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He holds a PhD in Social Sciences with a focus on health promotion and communication from the University of Leuven in Belgium. Broadly, his research investigates the role of media and communications in health promotion and disease prevention efforts. His recent research has focused on digital technologies and well-being, taking a two-pronged approach on the role of digital technologies in population health. The first approach focuses on the link between digital media (e.g., social media) use and well-being (physical, mental and social), and the various individual, social and contextual factors that moderate and mediate the link. This approach takes a more holistic and innovative perspective in conceptualizing, defining, and measuring individuals’ digital media use experiences and concomitant mental health and well-being outcomes. The second approach investigates the use of digital technologies in general and social media in particular as a tool for health promotion and disease prevention interventions. This effort employs concepts and strategies from other social science disciplines such as political science, marketing and behavioral economics to fully understand the potential and limits of using digital technologies for health interventions.
Dr. Bekalu has led and co-led several national and global large-scale collaborative research projects successfully and has published widely in referred scientific journals. He has mentored junior investigators and undergraduate and graduate students in public health.
Member of the organisation team
Ine Beyens is an assistant professor in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the effects of screen media on the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of children and adolescents. Ine is founding member of Project AWeSome, an interdisciplinary project that investigates the effects of social media use on various aspects of adolescents’ well-being. Within this project, she co-developed an idiographic (social) media effects approach. In her work, Ine employs intensive longitudinal data collected through experience sampling methods, to capture what adolescents do, feel, and think during their daily life.
Member of the organization team
Anne-Linda Camerini is Researcher and Lecturer at the Institute of Public Health (IPH), Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano. She holds a Master's degree in media studies and a PhD in health communication. Her research focuses on the role of digital media in the development and well-being of children, adolescents, and young adults, which she explores using innovative methods for data collection and analysis. She has been the PI of several research and science communication projects largely funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, including MEDIATICINO, Digital Lives, and "Siete connessi?". Anne-Linda Camerini is an Associate Editor of the European Journal of Health Communication.
Member of the organization team
Laura Marciano holds an SNSF Postdoc Fellowship position at Harvard Chan T.H. School of Public Health, Boston (USA), where she studies the link between digital media use and happiness in young people. She has a Master's degree in Psychology, with a specialization in Cognitive Neuroscience, obtained at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan with Menzione ad Honorem. In October 2021, she defended her PhD thesis in Health Communication at USI Lugano, in which she investigated the link between digital media use and personality. She is the main investigator of the HappyB project.
Dr Amy Orben is a Group Leader at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and Fellow of St. John’s College at the University of Cambridge. She completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford and MA at the University of Cambridge and now directs an internationally renowned research programme investigating the links between mental health and digital technology use in adolescence. Dr Orben’s work is supported by key national and international funders, charities and foundations, and she advises governments, health officials and public servants around the world, holding appointments on the UK government’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology College of Experts and the British Academy Public Policy Committee. She has received a range of prestigious awards including the Medical Research Council Early Career Impact Prize (2022), British Psychological Society Award for Outstanding Contributions to Doctoral Research (2019), Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science Mission Award (2020), British Neuroscience Association Researcher Credibility Prize (2021) and UK Reproducibility Network Dorothy Bishop Early Career Researcher Prize (2022).
Dr Douglas Parry is a Senior Lecturer in Socio Informatics at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. As part of the Cognition and Technology Research Group in the Department of Information Science his research is interdisciplinary and focuses on a broad spectrum of media uses and effects and generally concerns the interplay between digital technologies, human behaviour, and mental health and well-being (i.e., stress, anxiety, depression, cognitive control). As such, his work is situated across the social, management, and technical sciences and he is an active participant in research communities within the disciplines of Communication, Psychology, Human Computer Interaction, and Information Systems. Recently, alongside research in substantive media effects questions, his research has focused on a number of key methodological issues in research with digital technologies. His research routinely combines quantitative, qualitative, and computational methods, and follows open science practices whenever possible. His research has been published in leading journals in Socio-Informatics (and related fields), such as: Nature Human Behaviour; Journal of Communication; Technology, Mind and Behaviour; Information Technology & People; Computers & Education; and Computers in Human Behaviour.